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All Down Darkness Wide

A luminous and haunting memoir from the prize-winning poet - a story of love, heartbreak and coming of age, and a fearless exploration of queer identity and trauma.

When Seán meets Elias, the two fall headlong into a love story. But as Elias struggles with severe depression, the couple comes face-to-face with crisis. Wrestling with this, Seán Hewitt delves deep into his own history, enlisting the ghosts of queer figures and poets before him. From a nineteenth-century cemetery in Liverpool to the pine forests of Gothenburg, Hewitt plumbs the darkness in search of solace and hope.

All Down Darkness Wide is an unflinching meditation on the burden of living in a world that too often sets happiness and queer life at odds, and a tender portrayal of what it's like to be caught in the undertow of a loved one's suffering. By turns devastating and soaring, it is a mesmerising story of heartache and renewal, and a work of rare and transcendent beauty.





‘Seán Hewitt’s book is a beautiful, complex and textured meditation on love, on growing up gay, on becoming a poet and on inhabiting Northern landscapes in winter. His account of falling in love and being in love is honest and vivid, doing justice to dark experience, offering the most private moments a sort of glow. I was engrossed, hardly looking up as I read. I woke in the morning fully enclosed by it, as though I had been dreaming it.’

Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician


‘Seán Hewitt’s memoir is extraordinarily beautiful (I mean that adverb: it is extra-ordinary), and moving, and humane; it is the best new work of non-fiction I’ve read in years.’

Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent


‘This book is a precious, living thing, each page alive with ache and with love, with truth and with tenderness. To read Seán Hewitt is to experience the rare jolt of encountering a writer whose work will continue to be treasured long after our lifetimes. A wonder.’

Doireann Ní Ghríofa, author of A Ghost in the Throat


‘It’s impossible not to be intensely moved by this book, written with a poet’s eye for detail: line after line that grips head and heart. You are truly there with Seán Hewitt in the darkness and the light. His memoir of queer discovery, loves found and lost, the past that we carry with us, and ultimately of becoming, feels like a future classic.’

Niven Govinden, author of Diary of a Film


‘A wondrous act of recollection: flickering yet sonorous, elemental, humid, full of ache, flecked with ironic comedy. Hewitt makes shimmering magic from shame and shyness, through his own whispered disclosures as well as the echoes of other authors. This book arrives as if it was there all along, foxed and dog-eared from the first page.’

Jeremy Atherton Lin, author of Gay Bar


All Down Darkness Wide is a searing and sublime account of the scars left by intolerance and how they shape a self. Hewitt’s gorgeous prose gleams like a dayspring in the dimness, his story lingering long after the book is closed.’

Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley


‘Luminous and utterly original, a book with its own darkly beautiful gravity. I can’t think of anything I have read like it – in terms of style and sensibility, and emotional daring.’

Niamh Campbell, author of This Happy


‘Gorgeous and moving prose that excavates the deep complexities of grief, shame and love with a tenderness and lightness of touch that makes the words sing.’

Andrew McMillan, author of Physical


‘It’s a book that lures you in with the beauty of its prose, the poetic images that linger hauntingly in the mind for long afterwards. Difficult stories of mental illness, repression, and self-denial are transfigured into something defiant and life-affirming. I loved the complexity of it, the way he subtly reveals how our fragile identities are formed (and de-formed) by the forces that surround us.’

Charlie Gilmour, author of Featherhood

Publisher: Jonathan Cape
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